Many people in business now understand the basics of effective personal branding, from websites to professional headshots, business cards to blogging.
However when it feels like everyone around you is doing the same thing, it can be hard to know how to differentiate your efforts.
So how do you curate a unique, effective personal brand in the modern business world?
Firstly, find your uniqueness.
In order to be unique you need to work out what it is that’s different about your personal brand.
They key here is to look not at, but passed, your product or service. While your business may be unique, often the real USP comes from you, and how you do business.
Look at your values and ethos and see if there’s anything that differentiates you in the marketplace. It could be that you have a focus on supporting your local community, green issues like recycling and waste, or perhaps you have an outgoing personality and you bring humour or a rebellious idea to disrupt your industry.
The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge is an example of a woman who used a completely different approach to online communications to gain traction in the traditional, saturated market of copywriting.
Secondly, be innovative on social media.
Social media marketing isn’t new. Most business people are now expected to do some form of marketing on these channels. However, battling newsfeed algorithms with no advertising budget can make it feel like an uphill struggle.
The key to growing an effective personal brand on social media lies in being more innovative than your competitors.
So while others may have big Facebook Pages or Twitter followings, there could be room for you to start an interactive Snapchat following, for example. Perhaps you could do live streaming on Facebook to answer Q&As or you could even start a YouTube channel or a podcast.
Being innovative here will put you ahead of the curve and cut through the noise to reach your audiences.
Then, think about your uniform.
OK, you don’t have to actually wear a uniform.
But business women could learn a trick or two about the power of dressing for persuasion by looking to traditional political campaigning tactics, for example.
Why do politicians wear blue or red at important events? Because those colours have been known to make people more receptive to advertising messages.
In business, we design our logos and brand colours, but how often do we really use them? Including these colours on every communication touch point is a good idea, from email signatures to business cards.
However, why not incorporate a small aspect of it into clothing, like socks, shoes or a hair band. Even the slightest hint of colour can help people you meet to associate your brand with you, the person.
Next, brand your business tools.
Once you’ve branded your online accounts, physical marketing materials and maybe even yourself, you can think the job is done.
But there are other subtle ways to reinforce your personal brand. An often overlooked opportunity is the tools you use to do business each day.
Think about the laptop lid that sits upright as you work in coffee shops. What about your phone cover that lies on the desk? And then there’s your stationary. You don’t have to order big bundles of branded diaries to look like a professional in your meetings.
My Own Stationary enables you to design your own personalised notebooks easily and order in single or small quantities.
These little touches signal to people that your brand is professional and means more to you than just a logo above a door. It’s something that you live and breathe throughout the day.
Think about, building a community.
Many business people have successfully grown their customer bases by creating special areas, on websites or social media, where members get access to advice, special content or simple support and networking.
LinkedIn Groups offer this opportunity for Business-to-Business professionals, whereas more creative industries or consumer products enjoy the capabilities of private Facebook Groups.
These channels can offer a way to get around the issues of communicating to the masses online while also curating a personal brand that sets you apart as an industry leader.
Even if you don’t feel confident starting your own community, you could always join an existing one.
Maximise what you get out of it by really getting involved. Post regularly, like and comment, start discussions. This way you stay front of mind with other members.
Try using your voice.
Written blogs have been overtaken by video when it comes to the most popular content online. Live stream video footage is overtaking even traditional video, being watched three times longer than pre-edited videos, according to Facebook.
For those building a personal business brand online, that means taking a serious look at live streaming and video content as a strategy.
Even if you don’t have the skills to edit YouTube style videos - or the budget to pay someone else to do it - live streaming on Facebook Live or Instagram and Snapchat stories all offer the ability to speak to camera without expensive equipment.
While it takes some confidence, this kind of content takes a lot less time to create than traditional personal brand marketing.
Finally, curate instead of create.
Finding the time and inspiration to create content of any kind is often one of the biggest hurdles for business women trying to build a personal brand online.
However, there is a way around this.
Many entrepreneurs have become respected in their industries for the way they curate other people’s content, rather than creating their own.
Being the first to break industry news or compiling really useful reading lists each week for your email subscribers is highly valued content for other busy business people.
Tools like Google Alerts and RSS feeds can all pull relevant industry content to your inbox for you to sort through. Then you can package the best links up in a weekly email or post them throughout the day on your social channels.
In return, you will develop a reputation as a trusted source of quality industry information and grow a personal brand that is known and respected.